Dunlop dealt with 21 developers

FRANK Dunlop admitted he assisted 21 developers in planning matters – a dozen of whom were aware he was involved in bribing politicians.

Until last week, it was believed Mr Dunlop had only been active in lobbying councillors on around 14 projects, some of which were on behalf of the same promoter.

Under cross-examination yesterday, Mr Dunlop presented the tribunal with a list of 21 developers who were his clients. He claimed a dozen of these land-owners were aware he was paying councillors for their support of controversial rezoning motions.

Mr Dunlop said it had often been convenient for himself and councillors that such payments coincided with local and general elections. However, he was unable to account for how he distributed £30,000 he received from the promoters of one particular project.

Mr Dunlop said it had gone into a general fund which he used towards paying monies to politicians. However, he stressed none of the £30,000 was ever given to councillors in return for their support of the development.

“I did not offer and I was not asked for any money in relation to this development,” the former Government press secretary said.

Asked why the developer gave him this amount, Mr Dunlop said the money was to be available to him to give to councillors at election time. He disagreed with the suggestion by Séamus Ó Tuathail SC for Senator Don Lydon (FF) he failed to account for the disbursement of this money.

Mr Dunlop said it was put into a general fund which he had previously described as a warchest. He claimed the fund contained £300,000 but later revised this figure to £457,000.

The tribunal also heard Mr Dunlop re-negotiated his original fee of £75,000 in return for a 2% shareholding in the development. The political lobbyist revealed he still earns between £15,000 and £100,000 per year from this shareholding.

Although the development has not been identified openly in oral hearings at the tribunal, it is a clear reference to the Citywest business park in Saggart, Co Dublin.

Mr Dunlop said it now provided the vast proportion of his financial earnings.

He has ceased to pay himself a £3,500 monthly salary from his PR firm since last October because he no longer had any clients or income.

However, he disclosed he had sold off a shareholding in a separate development in 1996 which realised £1m.

The PR consultant admitted that he had paid £285,000 to the Revenue four years ago as a temporary settlement in relation to the warchest fund he had used to pay money to councillors during the 1990s as well as other sources of income.

Last week, Mr Dunlop said he had disclosed a sum of £175,000 kept in an AIB bank account in Rathfarnham to the Revenue in 1998. He understood that tax officials had postponed making any further judgements on his tax liabilities until after the tribunal had issued its findings.

The varying figures provided by Mr Dunlop prompted Mr Ó Tuathail to accuse him of reconstructing his memory to suit the facts.

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